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ALIADOS: Clear, reliable information for newcomers' most common and consequential questions.

Helping newcomers overcome fear and isolation by connecting them with each other and with clear information about thriving in a new place.

Photo of Harris Levine
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Aliados is an approachable place for immigrants to get answers and advice.

In our month-long pilot in the Dominican Republic, during which we provided answers to more than 10,000 people, we delivered community-sourced information using a chatbot with human support and a Facebook page.

HOW IT WORKS:

1. We start by sourcing text, audio, and video questions from newcomers. We cluster and prioritize the most consequential and common questions.

2. We synthesize information from (a) official sources and (b) people who have gone through it.

3. We then take complex information and simplify it. We want our answers to inspire confident action so we communicate clearly and concisely. People don’t understand legalese so we communicate in plain language, in multiple languages, by text or audio (for people who prefer listening to reading), and across platforms.

4. Lastly, we encourage people to ask new questions and encourage peers to engage.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Today: Aliados serves people who have relocated to the Dominican Republic (DR) from Haiti or Venezuela. There are >1M Haitians and people of Haitian descent living in the DR and >30,000 people who have fled political turmoil in Venezuela. Newcomers to the DR face significant challenges including deportations and discrimination.

Tomorrow: Aliados will help newcomers all over the world find community and have the information they need to confidently navigate everyday life in a new place.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Aliados is a bridge between the recently arrived and those who came before them. Aliados sits at the intersection of social equity, migration, and technology.

In order for newcomers to thrive, there needs to be a power shift. Information disrupts the existing power dynamics that keep vulnerable newcomers isolated and in fear.

Giving newcomers a chance to thrive is good for both people moving to a new place and for the people who already live there.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Based on in-depth interviews, prototypes, and a pilot we’ve found that people who have recently relocated need:

1. Clear, reliable, and actionable information about their immigration status. Where do they stand? What should they do given their situation?

2. Advice from their peers about how to navigate everyday life in a new country. How do the buses work? How do you enroll your kids in school?

3. Connection to peers and their new neighbors to help overcome fear, past trauma, and the isolation that comes from being in a new place.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Aliados helps people in a new place go from afraid and uncertain to confident and supported.

During our one-month pilot we:

// Provided answers to questions from more than 10,500 unique users in Spanish and Kreyol.

// Received more than 2,500 likes on the Aliados Facebook page.

// Reached tens of thousands of Haitians living in the DR with real-time news for immigrants. For example, a Facebook post providing a Kreyol translation of an announcement from the Department of Migration was seen by 4,399 people.

We want Aliados to grow into an engaging, warm community of people from across the relocation journey that helps people develop a sense of belonging to the place they live. In action, this means:

// People feel comfortable asking questions when they don’t know something -- even if it feels obvious.

// Aliados can point newcomers to social and community spaces and bridge online information with offline community.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

We’ve conducted in-depth interviews with a range of newcomers in the DR and other countries around the world about their lives and the challenges of adjusting to a new place.

Among the thousands of conversations we have so far (online and offline) a few that stand out:

// We received a video sent to us from the inside of a deportation bus with a man asking questions on behalf of the group about what will happen to them

// A mother sent a picture of her injured son to let people know that there was violence against Haitians in her area

// A woman we spoke with has been planning to take steps towards legalization but has been unable to take the first step forward for 16 years

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Immigration information is poorly written, at advanced reading levels, and often goes unannounced when published. People are afraid to seek out immigration advice from government sources because they worry they will be deported or penalized, and if they do go to government offices, they regularly spend hours—even days—waiting in lines.

A critical challenge during our pilot was learning what people need and how to get it to them in a way they want. We experimented with ways to create conversations where people feel like they can tell us things and trust that we are giving them accurate information and helpful tips. Some of the ways we do this are by:

// Offering Aliados in both Spanish and Kreyol

// Explaining up front that we are not affiliated with any government agency

// Sharing insider knowledge like which door to use or what the best times to arrive at Migration

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

We met Moise during our pilot. He’s lived in the DR for 19 years now and has had to figure out how to get residency and birth certificates for his kids. In the process he’s become a master at navigating the system.

When people asked questions about residency and immigration or enrolling kids in school, we asked Moise to share his lived experience with us and them.

This is where the work is, and it’s where the specialized, hard-won knowledge of immigrant communities is by far the best resource.

We do this in three ways:

1. We triangulate “official” sources with on-the-ground experiences to provide helpful, trustworthy advice.

2. We’ve found that people want different sources for different questions. We encourage people to answer each other’s questions.

3. Our team is made up of people with lived experiences related to relocation.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

This project started with a small grant from DFS Labs, a grantee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Our work depends on being able to monitor and simplify news related to policies, and steps to take regarding the most common immigration issues. This means we will continue to have on-the-ground team members.

We rely on a network of people who have relocated to provide advice and guidance about the experience of living in a new country.

To continue to create high-quality content we will partner with a range of local resources including an immigration attorney (on an as needed basis) to guarantee content quality and accurate translation of legal terminology.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name

Ker-twang

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Ker-twang is a social enterprise whose mission is to design and scale high-quality services for low-income people.

The majority of our team are first and second generation immigrants who have family in different countries.

We’ve been working on projects to increase equity and justice for newcomers for 4 years with organizations like Hispanic Unity of Florida and The United Way, including design projects to better help individuals learn languages and find employment.

In addition to our work in the U.S and Dominican Republic, we’ve conducted field research and scaled services in Indonesia, India, Zambia, Tanzania, and Cambodia. We just launched a project with the UN Capital Development Fund in The Gambia.

We have particular expertise in behavior change and effective communication. We specialize in education that inspires confidence. We’ve built easy-to-understand campaigns that have reached millions of people.

Website URL:

www.ker-twang.com

Type of submitter

  • We are a For-Profit Startup or Startup Social Enterprise

Organization Headquarters: Country

United States

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Miami, Florida

6 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Ikong James
Team

Hi Harris Levine thanks for this contribution it's amazing to read and learn more about the idea. Hopefully you can scale it to Uganda soon too.

Wish you all the best
James

Photo of Harris Levine
Team

Hi James,

Thank you for your note. That would be amazing. How do immigrants access information about living in Uganda now?

Best,
Harris

Photo of Ikong James
Team

In my experience and relations with people on the move, what i have noticed in uganda is that new comers if they come in the country especially for refugees they are recieved at their points of entry and these are more often refugee camps and other areas of temporary settlement. Information access in those areas is challenged with very long cues, very few service providers, overwhelming numbers of clients trying to access information and services regardless of inclusion of other settled refugees with in the camps to try and ease up information access through helping service provider provide necessary information to new comers.

The other thing is that because of the pressures among other cahllenges in these areas of temporary settlement in uganda in regards to information access, these new comers often opt to run away from the safety of these areas and try to salvage their dignity, purpose or sense of belonging in urban areas where they normally seek for communities of their fellow natives or groups of people with whom they share a nationality, language or heritage among other factors that prompt them to settle with in a specific areas in the urban setting and these are usually with in the urban slum areas. That is where they get most of the information that they use to servive with in the complexities of metrpolitan areas in uganda.

At least in my experience thats what i have seen and found common in the case for uganda as a country that temporarily hosts people on the move particularly refugees and asylum seekers.

Best,
James

Photo of Harris Levine
Team

Thank you James. That's super interesting to learn about. One day, we'd love to be of service to refugees in Uganda.

So much of what you said feels so similiar to what newcomers to the Dominican Republic experience. Two things stand out:

1. "long cues, very few service providers, overwhelming numbers of clients trying to access information"

2. people want to "salvage their dignity, purpose or sense of belonging in urban areas where they normally seek for communities of their fellow natives or groups of people with whom they share a nationality, language or heritage...That is where they get most of the information that they use to servive"

Thank you again.

Photo of Ikong James
Team

Will be happy to collaborate where need be or as contact person here on ground otherwise i encourage you to keep one doing what you do and maybe some day we may infact call on to you for collaboration on the this same idea here back at home because beneficiaries could benefit a great deal from it.

Best,
James

Photo of Harris Levine
Team

That would be amazing. What a world!